Shaykh Nuh on Takfir & The Deoband-Barelwi Conflict

salamu `alaykum

Please see:


A very interesting and balanced analysis of the situation from one of the greatest (neutral) scholars of our times…

Also, see Sidi Hanif Kamal’s insightful and clear explanation:






Filed under General, `Aqida

28 responses to “Shaykh Nuh on Takfir & The Deoband-Barelwi Conflict

  1. Whoa, that’s a hot site. MashaAllah! JazakAllah khair for that site.

  2. Abdullah Ibn Adam

    The comparisons, made by the deobandis, will always be weird.

  3. salamu `alaykum

    “weird” is not a shari`ah countenanced reason for takfir.


  4. Seeker of Guidance

    Assalamu Alaikum dear brothers and sisters,

    Many people are objecting to the points made in Shaykh Nuh’s article for whatever reasons. I have three points to make regarding this.

    1) No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes except the prophets (upon them be peace and blessings).

    2) We must not miss the main point of Shaykh Nuh’s article; namely that it is a grave matter to make takfir of anyone who says the shahadatain and that the “motives today behind careless accusations of unbelief made by Muslims are many, of which few have anything to do with religion”.

    3) I am afraid a lot of people will focus on the second half of the article and ignore the first part which is more crucial to understand.

    Wa salam

  5. Imran Khan

    Assalam Allaikum,

    With respect to Hazrat Thanvi ra, I will just point out two important things, from Sidi Hanif’s post that should, hopefully, be enough for all those who charge him with disrespect in Hifdh Al-Iman:

    1. When Molvi Ahmad Raza Khan Barelvi’s comments relating to Hadhrat Thanawi’s text in Hifdh Al-Iman was shown to Hakim Al-Ummat, he (Hadhrat Thanawi) strongly rejected Molvi Ahmed Raza Khan’s “interpretation” and commented that he could not even dream of thinking such a repugnant (khabees) thing about the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

    Hadhrat Thanawi himself said that if anyone was to believe and directly or indirectly agreed with what Molvi Ahmed Raza Khan had understood/misunderstood from his text then he (Hakim Al-Ummat) would, in accordance with the rulings of Shariah, consider such a person to be outside the pale of Islam for denigrating the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). This is a documented comment of Hakim Al-Ummat.

    COMMENT: Subhan Allah! He himself denounced such a thought for Allah’s messenger and disowned Mawlana Ahmed Rida’s interpretation of his words.

    2. In addition to this, with an aim of making his statement more clear and understandable, Hakim Al-Ummat twice made changes in the text so as there would be no ambiguity left in the text. Thereafter, the text read as follows:

    “Aap ki zhat-e-muqqadasa par alim-e-ghayab ka hukaum keya jana agar baqol Zayd sahih ho to daryafet taleb yay amr hah keh iss ghayab seymurad ba’az ghayab hay ya kul ghayab. Agar ba’az uloom-e-ghayabiya muradhain to iss mey huzoor sallalaho alhey wasalam ki keya takhsees hay?///Mutlaq ba’az uloom-e-ghayabiya to ghair Ambiya ahlehimussalam ko bih hasil hain/// to chaheyay keh sub ko alim ul ghayab kaha jaway.” (Bast Al-Banan — forward slashes mark changes made to text by Hakim Al-Ummat)

    Trans: “If it refers to but some of the unseen, then how is the Revered One [the Prophet] (Allah bless him and give him peace) uniquely special? Certain knowledge of unseen is possessed by the non-prophets also, so everyone should be called ‘knower of the unseen…’”

    Hadhrat Hakim Al-Ummat Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi made it also extremely clear that no one was to publish the old text of Hifdh Al-Iman (the one that Sheikh Nuh has published) after the changes had been made. These changes were done in the lifetime of Molvi Ahmed Raza Khan. Subsequently two books were written by Hakim Al-Ummat – Bast Al-Banan Li Kaff Al-Lisan An Kitab Hifdh Al-Iman (1329AH) and Tagyir Al-Unwan Fi Ba’di Ibarat Hifdh Al-Iman (1342AH).

  6. Anon

    I second ‘Seeker of Guidance’.
    We should try to put our personal feelings aside and try to accept the truth.

    ‘Say the truth even if it may be bitter’ Prophet peace be upon him.

    The bottom line is, no one is perfect, [except The Prophet peace be upon him]. People will always make mistakes, but that shouldn’t stop us from respecting them for their good works. its jjust the way Allah swt has created us, we’re ‘Insaan’ afterall, we were made and designed to ‘forget’.

  7. So we should awaken the Akabir in their graves for their mistake while you are not willing to accept that Shaykh Nuh could be mistaken?

  8. Anon

    Mistaken to what extent?
    Maybe we should try to swollow our pride and anger, and accept the truth for once. Its the only way to success and unity.
    Like I said, we’re Insaan, so every book may be imperfect, except the Qur’an and Hadith.
    We should try to understand Sheikh Nuhs article with an unbiased mentality.

  9. buryali

    The point of the article is not to side but clarify the issue of takfir; whom has the authority and when it’s exercised. This is the second time Shaykh Nuh to write on the subject, first being in Islamica Magazine on Kalam in Islam. Secondly the later part of the article is to show a working example that went wrong, and objectively show the errors and thus reconcile the two camps. It would very sad for the two sides not to reconcile. This subversion within our community has to stop, it helps no one, specially on some differences that will always exist

  10. sufi

    what did ghandgoi say on ilme ghayb

  11. salamu `alaykum

    There are a few key points to keep in mind:

    [1] When it is mentioned that Shaykh Nuh’s article is “balanced” what is meant is that he is not coming from the perspective of “group-think” that both Deobandis and Barelwis naturally, sometimes, come from.

    Rather, a careful analysis of Shaykh Nuh’s article shows that his approach is more methodological rather than “positional”, “personal”, or from the viewpoint of belonging to a “group” – unless the group is specifically designated as “Sunni Islam” for which one cannot be labelled as “unbalanced” or “biased”.

    [2] Regardless of Maulana Thanawi’s original statement and the seeming lack of clarity therein, the “issue” is a non-issue – especially after Maulana’s changing of the original and his forbidding the republishing of the original. This information is well-known and Shaykh Nuh himself mentioned it.

    Whoever doubts Maulana’s love for the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) has a plethora of proof that shows such an assumption as being unsound. The books are available. Read them and witness the `ishq of a true `aashiq.

    [3] Yes, it would have been good to see Shaykh Nuh mentioning some praise of the Akabir. However, this is , at most, a side issue unrelated to the main jist of the article, which was (a) the concept and rules of takfir according to sunni methodological theory and discourse and (b) The application of that methodology to a real situation. The Deobandis should be more than happy with the fact that Shaykh Nuh hit the nail on the head with his conclusion.

    [4] Yes, Shaykh Nuh made a few errors that included, primarily, Maulana Khalil’s usage of specific analogies.

    As for Maulana Thanawi’s words, Shaykh Nuh knew of the changes made in the Bast al Binan. Yet, since Shaykh Nuh’s article was *primarily* dealing with the takfir of Maulana Ahmad Ridha against these *specific* statements Shaykh Nuh had to address them – the original statements – directly.

    Another point that could be added is the fact that even the issue of “Imkan al Kadhb” and its usage was well before Maulana Gangohi came on the scene – having its roots during the time of Shah Isma`il Shahid and Maulana Fadhl al Haq Khayrabadi.

    [5] Shaykh Nuh’s opinion that such words by Maulana Thanawi were lacking in decorum and proper scholarly discourse is his opinion. He is entitled to hold it. We do not consider our akabir perfect. Rather, their perfection lies in their imperfection. This is a rule of thumb for the Sufis.

    At the same time, we Deobandis are quite staunch in maintaining that such words were never intended nor used for the purpose of disrespect, insult, or degradation. It may well be the case that better words could have been used. but Maulana’s ruju` is sufficient evidence for us Deobandis not to use such an analogy again.

    [6] Even with Shaykh Nuh’s one-word praise of Maulana Ahmad Rudha, his criticism for him still stands.

    The acknolwedgment of brilliance was also coupled with the acknolwedgment of a bad “temperament” possessed by Maulana Ahmad Ridha, a “somewhat exotic prophetology” and, prior to that, the mention of him not taking into account “context” as well as a follow up of the verdict being “mistaken” and “not valid in the Hanafi school”.

    In addition to the above, contrasting someone to a “Wahabi” and “Wahabi like *takfir*” who engaged in a “fallacious” fatwa with “inattention to needful logical distinction”, and “inaccurate observations” is not per se “admiration” lacking criticism. It is no less than me saying, “Shaykh Albani was a very pious and righteous man…. but his grading of hadith was unacceptable, his fiqh weak, and his opinions unacceptable.”

    Ofcourse, the conclusion itself was the final straw that broke the camel’s back and it clearly considered the Barelwi reaction to be far worse than that of the Deobandis.

    [7] As for Shaykh Nuh’s husn al dhann to the percieved meaning and intention of Ahmad Ridha then there is nothing inherently bad about it. Maulana Thanawi’s husn al dhann of Ahmad Ridha on the issue replicates Shaykh Nuh’s almost word for word.

    [8] One should applaud the reaction of the Deobandis, such as Sidi Hanif and other scholars I know, who have maintained a high-level of respect for Shaykh Nuh even when differing in certain areas.

    [9] The akabir of Deoband were among the greatest Hanafi scholars alive. They deserve due respect and consideration. Shaykh Faraz told me himself that Maulana Thanawi was no less than Ibn `Abidin as it related to the Hanafi school, giving verdicts, and influence.

    It is the job of us Deobandis to educate others about our Akabir and to show their greatness. commitment to the religion, and high spiritual rank – May Allah be well pleased with them all.

    [10[ Alla future discourses arising from this article should maintain the highest level of adab, respect, and sincerity that Shaykh Nuh displayed and others who replied to him such as Sidi Hanif (Basair). This is the way of our Akabir, Sidi Hanif being a living example of them and one who sticks to their way, Alhamdulilah.

    This is the gateway opened to bridge gaps and resolve issues – a much needed one that we should all take full advantage of.

    Salman ibn Ahmad

  12. Seeker of Guidance

    “One should applaud the reaction of the Deobandis, such as Sidi Hanif and other scholars I know, who have maintained a high-level of respect for Shaykh Nuh even when differing in certain areas.”

    Masha Allah. This is the way things should always be. Unfortunately some followers of the other side are not showing the same respect.

  13. Beautiful Article, very well balanced.

    JazakAllah sidi salman for further clarification.


  14. f

    Shaykh Nuh hafiza hullah might not have done it here, but he has definitely praised the deobandi ‘ulema in the past.

  15. Tazkiyyah

    I read carefully the section
    on “as if hadir nadir”

    That hadeeth certainly proves nadir
    But I didnt get how it proves hadir?

  16. salamu `alaykum

    Shaykh Nuh’s position is that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is “Hadhir” but in his grave, in a “barzakhi thobe that does not have limits”. He said this “barzakhi thobe” is akin to the ruh in this regard.

    He said those who believe that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) comes into a room, sits on a chair, and so forth are victims of superstition.

    However, this is not the place to start a discussion on the topic of “Hadhir Nadhir”. As Deobandis, we stick to the position of our Akabir on the issue.


  17. Tazkiyyah

    Everyone agrees he is haadir in his grave.


  18. Muslim

    And what is the position of the Deobandi Akabir in this issue Sidi Salman?
    [I’m only asking because I don’t know]

  19. sufi

    “This is the way of our Akabir, Sidi Hanif being a living example of them and one who sticks to their way, Alhamdulilah.”

    so whats your position then salman on the mafaheem post on basairs website. same as akabir?

    sufi iqbal jalandri deobandi

  20. salamu `alaykum

    I have no position on anything, Sidi. Who am I to have a position?

    Please ask the scholars who are representatives of the Deobandi way about the above questions.

    Let us please not divert the topic. Barakallah feekum.


  21. Seeker of Guidance

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Simple Solution:

    1) Berelwis need to approach Deobandis and admit Shaykh Ahmad Raza Khan (Allah have mercy on him) was mistaken in his takfir of the Deobandis. They should seek forgiveness from Deobandis and also forgive and forget.
    2) The Deobandis need to approach the Berelwis and admit that their Akabir (Allah have mercy on them) were also mistaken.
    3) After peace has been made the extreme elements within each group needs to be identified and reproached.
    4) Both Sides should acknowledge that their differences of opinion (e.g. mawlid, urs) are a mercy from Allah Most High.
    5) Thank Shaykh Nuh (Allah preserve him) for trying to bridge gaps.
    6) If the elders can’t do this then the younger generation need to take the steps to peace. After all they will be the elders one day.

    In regards to forgiving and showing mercy to each other, we only need to look at the example of our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

    May Allah unite us a and raise us to lofty heights.

    wa salam

  22. Seeker of Guidance

    Point number two should read as:

    2) The Deobandis need to approach the Berelwis and admit that their Akabir (Allah have mercy on them) were also mistaken. They should seek forgiveness from Berelwis and also forgive and forget.

  23. Imran Khan

    Akhi SeekerofGuidance,

    I appreciate your intentions for uniting the us (Deobandis) with Barelvis, however, the proposed points are too quixotic to be realized.

    You can simply forget about 1 and 2 since nobody amongst Barelvis will accept that Maulana Ahmed Rida made a mistake. At least, not the ones that really matter. We, as Deobandis, hold our elders to be innocent, at least, in this whole affair. They were charged with something that they never believed in or even entertained as a thought. What could they be blamed for? All of the Deobandi Shuyookh including Mawlana Gangohi, Nanotvi, Sahranpuri, and Thanvi have clarified their stance and they were far removed from what was alleged about them. So what should the Deobandis apologize for?

    As for the extreme elements within each group, who do you mean by that. The belief that Deobandis are kafir is a mainstream belief among all Barelvis. Go ask any “moderate” Barelvi scholar if you don’t believe this. Who are the extreme among the Deobandis? Please clarify.

    Your point 4 is an interesting point. You say that both sides must acknowledge that these differences are a mercy from Allah. Basically, you mean that Deobandis should stop condemning the prevalent forms of mawlid, urs, chaleeswan, etc and accept the Barelvi position that there is nothing wrong with them. Why shouldn’t you ask the Barelvis rather to accept the Deobandi position that innovations have crept inside these practices and they must be rejected. After all, everyone here agrees that Deobandis don’t have a problem with the aslul jawaaz of these practices but rather how the common masses celebrate or believe in them. Why don’t our Barelvi brother join us in condemning the wrong within these practices? You can’t say that these practices don’t have a lot of evils in them these days, can you? Especially the ones carried out in Indo-Pak. Why not work together to ban these evil practices from occurring at such gatherings? Barelvis have more leverage in acheiving this since they have more sway in circles that are guilty of such practices. Unfortunately, they either keep quiet or pretend as if there isn’t any issue to address. I am sorry but one musn’t compromise on principles for the sake of pleasing people and I do see that happen a lot.

    As for Shaykh Nuh, he has done a commendable act by refuting the false charge of kufr against our elders and for this he will be rewarded, insha’Allah. I apologize if I appear to sound rather pessimistic but I believe there shouldn’t be any compromises on the principles that our elders so sincerely believed in and strove for throughout their lives. If anything, the debate should center around the issues that divide us and to come to a mutual understanding in tackling the larger issue which is keeping Islam in its pristine form and making effort towards purification of the heart, which is still the goal of Deobandis. I believe Shaykh Nuh and other neutrals can play a very effective role in this as well. May Allah unite us all on what is haq. Ameen

  24. Seeker of Guidance

    Jazak Allah khayr. If you disagree with 1-4, at least try 5 and 6.

  25. Seeker of Guidance

    “The proposed points are too quixotic to be realized”

    By Allah Most High, Who permits us to breath and live, this matter can be reconciled easily. Nothing is hard for Him, all we need to do is ask.

  26. Hegemony of Barelvi, Deobandi, & Salafi in IndoPak:

    This article is somewhat unfair towards us in the end but it gives the reader a fresh look at intra muslim rvialires and domination/unity efforts in the past.

    Alhamdulliah and Inshallah Tala, Ulama -e-Deoband will be victories once again.

    Mujtaba Ali

  27. Masood Shaikh

    Assalam O Alikum

    I Agree With You Imran….

    I Was a barelwi… i had made many wrong intentions about deobandis like other barelwis followers..

    I also used to have such claims against deobandis / wahabis… But When i searched for proof…nothing was in my hand…

    I have got now true path towards the right path.

    I know now that ahmad rida khan had made a real big mistake which divided the ahl-sunnah jamah..

    may allah show all true path towards sunnah of prophet..

    Good Going Imran… you are doing right job

    keep it up…


  28. Waheed Rabbani AlQadri

    Salaams and Greetings to all muslims.

    Praise be to Allah the ruler of the worlds and blessings, peace and salutations on the Holy Prophet. I have been reading with great interest the posts by brothers on Sheikh Nuh’s article. The debate between Deobandis and Barelwi’s has been going on for almost a hundred years in Indo-Pak and although those of us who have been born outside the subcontinent have had this “forced” upon us. The one who seeks righteousness but makes a mistake and then repents after realising this is like he never made the mistake by Allah’s will. I think in all of this we forget that there were scholars of very high standing in India before Mawlana Ahmed Ridha or Ashraf Ali Thanawi, and that this debate is not limited to these 2 personalities. If we are to seek reconcilliation we need to just go back a little in time to the likes of Mujadid alfe sahni Sheikh Ahmed Sarhandi, Shah Wali Ullah Muhadith e dehlvi and the previous generations to determine what is Sunni Islam and Aqeeda. I do not feel it is appropriate nor neccessary for the Sheikh to stand judge and jury on this matter as irt seems he is claiming to have higher or better knowledge of what either of those people have written and claiming to be judge over the matter. in his deciding the knowledge of either is less than his is a very dangerous thing thing to do and has further split the ummah especially here in the UK. Those of us who used to sit together to learn and have brotherly behaviour towards each other are now at each others throats as those who are mureeds of the Shayook of Indo-Pak and those of the shadhili Sheikhs are now “pitted” in opposition because of this. Please please can i request that we stop assuming things about the knowledge of the greatest Shayookh of previous times and look after our own akhirah as what has happened is quite the opposite of what was intended. May Allah forgive our shortcomings and give us the guidance we seek for the sake of his Holy Messenger and Prophet, may the peace, blessings and salutations be upon him.

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